COMMENTARY | The Oakland Athletics had a solid lineup in 2013.
Perhaps not so coincidentally, all three are still playing while Oakland's players sit home and watch.
Against the Tigers in the American League Division Series, the A's were held under three runs on three occasions, ultimately spelling their doom in a Game 5 shutout. Despite getting really good pitching all series, Oakland could not muster up the offense to punch its ALCS ticket.
The solution? Sign Carlos Beltran.
Beltran, 36, is enjoying another tremendous postseason with the St. Louis Cardinals. Luckily, for the A's, Beltran is also a free agent after this year, and is not likely to be re-signed considering the glut of outfielders (including mega-prospect Oscar Taveras) existing in St. Louis.
Despite his age climbing, Beltran has shown no signs of slowing down at the plate. The Puerto Rican hit 24 homers this season while batting .296 and sporting a .339 on-base percentage. He also happens to be the perfect fit for platoon-happy Oakland, being a switch-hitter.
Beltran has lost a step in the outfield, but he still has a good arm and adequate skills. After watching Chris Young do his best imitation of the worst player of all-time this year, the A's are in need of another outfielder to put into the mix with Yoenis Cespedes, Coco Crisp and Josh Reddick.
With Oakland's philosophy of rotating players through the DH spot, the foursome could easily garner massive playing time even if everybody stays healthy. Should someone go down, all four have flexibility to play multiple outfield spots.
Beltran would also be an excellent insurance policy in case Reddick decides to hit sub-.230 again. The mountain man has an all-world glove but since the first half of 2012, has been atrocious at the plate. If he can't rediscover his stroke, Beltran can take over in right full-time while somebody else fills in at DH.
The A's do not typically have a ton of money to throw around in the free-agent market, but this year Oakland has a decent chunk of cash to spend with the assumed declined options of Chris Young ($11 million) and Kurt Suzuki ($8.5 million). At Beltran's age, he isn't likely to get more than a 2-year deal in the neighborhood of $12-14 million per season. A little hefty for Billy Beane's club, but certainly affordable.
This should be the season Oakland makes its championship push. With good hitters already in place with Josh Donaldson, Jed Lowrie, Brandon Moss, Crisp and Cespedes, the A's could really push themselves over the top by spending a little cash to bolster the meat of the order.
Beltran is not the player he was five years ago, but that's all right. Oakland only needs who he is now.
Matt Verderame is a lifelong Oakland A's follower and has been published in the Binghamton Press and Sun-Bulletin and also at SB Nation among other papers and websites. His twitter handle is @MattVerderame.
- Sports & Recreation
- Carlos Beltran
- Oakland Athletics
- Detroit Tigers